Teen-to-teen sexting is lightning up more electronic devices than ever, according to research done by the University of Calgary.
In the U of C’s sexting study of more than 110,000 teenagers aged 12 to 17 years old, it states one in seven teens report that they have sent sexts, one in four have received sexts and one in eight or nine (12 per cent) have forwarded a sext without consent, which is the most alarming statistic for assistant professor Sheri Madigan.
“(Forwarding suggestive text messages) is called non-consensual forms of sexting. So in the same way that non-consensual sex is, these are reportable offences,” Madigan said. “Sexting is considered the sending of nude or semi-nude pictures or videos through electronic means.”
The simple touch of the copy and paste button when text messaging or forwarding an attachment could change a teen’s life forever.
“It can be a criminal offence for teens to share sexts between each other,” Calgary lawyer Jonathan F. Griffith said.
“People under the age of 18 can be charged with child pornography if they are sexting between them.”
Stricter laws in Canada are already being implemented for sharing photos or video of a person online without their consent.
“Bill C-13 came into effect just last month and that made it a criminal offence for an adult to share an intimate image of another person without that person’s consent.
“This is definitely an issue that we’re taking more seriously,” Griffith said.
Madigan said their research showed that there is no gender difference in the rate of sexting between boys and girls but they do experience it differently.
“We know that girls feel more pressure to sext, they also feel like there’s greater ramification for sexting whereas boys don’t seem to face the same type of criticism or consequences from sexting,” Madigan said.
She says sexting should be a concern for parents, since teens are more likely to be sexting on a personal device than a computer and 90 per cent of kids have their own cellphone.
“It’s really important for parents to have ongoing and frequent conversations with kids around their device use and a concept called digital citizenship.
“How are they conducting themselves online? And are they doing it in a legal and safe manner?”
In terms of “real time” teen sex, Madigan says that has actually declined.
If you have been coerced into sexting or are being sextorted, officials say report it immediately to police or through cybertips.ca.